Mubarak Appoints New Prime Minister, Vice President

EGYPTIAN President Hosni Mubarak has appointed intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his first vice-president and also named a new prime minister.

Ahmed Shafiq Appointed Egypt's Prime Minister

Egypt's newly appointed Prime Minister and former Civil Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafiq, January 20, 2011.Egypt's president picked former air force commander and aviation minister Ahmed Shafiq as the next prime minister on Saturday.

Here are some facts about Shafiq.

Ahmed Shafiq, a close associate of President Hosni Mubarak, had been minister of civil aviation since 2002.

A former fighter pilot, Shafiq served as commander of the Egyptian air force between 1996 to 2002, a post Mubarak himself held before he became vice president of Egypt under former President Anwar Sadat.

As minister of civil aviation, Shafiq has won a reputation for efficiency and administrative competence. He has supervised a successful modernisation programme at the state airline EgyptAir and improvements to the country's airports.

Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman As First Vice-President

Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, left, shown here with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was sworn in as Egypt's vice president on Saturday. "Omar Suleiman has been sworn in as deputy to President Hosni Mubarak," state news agency MENA reported on Saturday. Shortly afterwards, state television showed images of Mr Suleiman, an army general and Mubarak confidante, saluting Mr Mubarak after taking the oath of office.

Soon after Mr Suleiman was sworn in, Mr Mubarak tapped the current aviation minister, Ahmed Shafiq, to form a new government. Mr Shafiq is respected by the Egyptian elite, even among the opposition, and has often been suggested as a potential successor to Mr Mubarak. He is a former air force commander and head of Egyptair.

Mr Suleiman, 75, attended Cairo's Military Academy, fought in the wars of 1967 and 1973 against Israel and served as the first deputy head of military intelligence and then, since 1993, as director of Egypt's intelligence service.

He has been labelled the most powerful spy chief in the Middle East, and the sharply dressed and well-groomed general was for years a highly enigmatic figure for the world at large. He is trusted by the United States and Israel, and has orchestrated a series of albeit short-lived truces between Israel and the Palestinians over the last 10 years.

In 1995, Mr Suleiman advised Mr Mubarak to ride in an armoured car during a visit to Addis Ababa and it shielded him from the fire of Islamist gunmen that killed the car's driver.

During the 1990s, Mr Suleiman assisted the efforts of the CIA and other foreign intelligence agencies to crack down on Islamists, at home and abroad. He also targeted radical Islamist groups such as Jemaah Islamiah after a string of attacks on foreigners that damaged Egypt's vital tourism industry.

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